- Friday, 04 May 2012 17:08
Magnificat, anima mea Dominum!
Earlier today my friend Peter and I journeyed to Portsmouth Abbey
and School for the blessing of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto. An outdoor shrine to dedicated to the Virgin Mary who appeared in Lourdes France in the 19th century. Abbot Caedmon led the blessing and School choir sang the traditional hymns to Our Lady.
Abbot Caedmon drew our attention to the humility of Mary appearing to Saint Bernadette asking her to tell the world of the need for prayer and penance. A message clearly consistent with the Gospel of Christ. It is Mary, the Mother of God, Mother of the Church who calls us to greater fidelity to her Son and Our Savior, Jesus. And so the Gospel and Our Lady of Lourdes, so with us today.
The Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes on the west side of the Portsmouth Abbey campus is the generous gift of an anonymous former student and benefactor of Portsmouth. The generosity of this man is borne of his desire to make the Virgin Mary of Lourdes known and to inspire among those connected with Portsmouth the enduring commitment of faith, reason and service for one’s salvation and the salvation of the world. A significant example of this witness is that the Abbey School, for the last 34 years, has joined with the Ampleforth Abbey Pilgrimage (England) for a service to trip to assist the sick on pilgrimage seeking a divine healing and cure at the great Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France in July.
The stone for the Grotto was harvested from the Abbey property (as was the stone used for the Abbey Church) and a local landscaping crew did the labor. Benedictine Brother Joseph contributed his expertise to the project.
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- Tuesday, 27 March 2012 06:19
A rose among thorns. Well, almost. Man and woman
always want to give an expression of love and affection to another. In the
course of history you will notice the gifts of love’s sentiment and reality
given to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. Visit a shrine where
healings are reported and you’ll notice tokens of gratitude: lockets, flowers, chalices, artwork, and the like. One beautiful gift of
love was given by Pope Benedict Monday evening to the Virgen de la Caridad de
Cobre in Cuba: a golden rose. The papal gift of a golden rose dates back to the
middle ages when a pope held a golden rose in a procession on Laetare Sunday,
the fourth Sunday of Lent. It was Pope Eugene III who called the rose a sign of
Christ’s passion: the gold symbolizing the resurrection and the thorns the
Over time the golden rose was given to Church dignitaries thus
expanding the meaning: a personal honor and a reminder: do not forget the
responsibilities and duties that come with being a Christian. Beyond the human
honor given to royalty, the rose was given to abbeys and sanctuaries of the
Virgin Mary. Pope John Paul II gave a few these roses to shrines and Pope
Benedict XVI is fond of the custom and so he’s given roses to Altötting, Mariazell,
Fatima, Aparecida, USA and now to Cuba.
- Monday, 26 March 2012 06:07
The mystery of the annunciation to Mary is not just a
mystery of silence. It is above and beyond all that a mystery of grace.
feel compelled to ask ourselves: Why did Christ really want to be born of a
virgin? It was certainly possible for him to have been born of a normal
marriage. That would not have affected his divine Sonship, which was not
dependent on his virgin birth and could equally well have been combined with
another kind of birth. There is no question here of a downgrading of marriage
or of the marriage relationship; nor is it a question of better safeguarding
the divine Sonship. Why then?
We find the answer when we open the Old Testament
and see that the mystery of Mary is prepared for at every important stage in
salvation history. It begins with Sarah, the mother of Isaac, who had been
barren, but when she was well on in years and had lost the power of giving life,
became, by the power of God, the mother of Isaac and so of the chosen people.
process continues with Anna, the mother of Samuel, who was likewise barren, but
eventually gave birth; with the mother of Samson, or again with Elizabeth, the
mother of John the Baptizer. The meaning of all these events is the same: that
salvation comes, not from human beings and their powers, but solely from
God–from an act of his grace.
Co-Workers of the Truth Meditations
for Every Day of the Year (1992), 99-100.
- Sunday, 25 March 2012 09:36
Mary would never see the world in the same way again because she had conceived beneath her heart, The Word, the Son of God made flesh within her. The Word from the mind of God now in her being…She would now have to see everything through the eyes of that Word and everything would change. “Nothing would again be causal and small, but everything with light invested,” (J. Duffy, “The Annunciation”). Christ, the Light of the World.
That’s what happens when we come to know Christ, to possess Christ, to bring Christ into our very being, flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood. When our heart beats with Christ’s heart we see the whole world differently. We look into the womb of every mother and see the image of the Son of God.
John Joseph Cardinal O’Connor
8th Archbishop of New York, 1984-2000
- Wednesday, 21 December 2011 11:05
Advent is moving us closer and closer to the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God–Jesus. Among the rich readings of sacred Scripture we have in the Liturgy, there is today’s that recalls for us Mary’s visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. The Visitation is the second of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
Looking at what is given to us to meditate on, the vocation of woman is brought out. Looking around us the culture does’t offer too many exceptional models of woman for us to take inspiration.
This morning we prayed the Sacrifice of the Mass with the young women of New York’s Dominican Academy, Dominican Father Ignatius Schweitzer said he noticed six characteristics which portray Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as a fitting role model for all people, but noteworthy of women. While Mary may be a little removed from some Christians real experience, I think the lack is filled with Mass readings today.
The six characteristics are:
1. Mary is a woman of faith;
2. Mary puts her faith into action;
3. Mary takes the initiative;
4. Mary brings joy to Elizabeth;
5. Mary is a community-builder;
6. Mary is a caring mother.
It is up to us to flesh out the details of these characteristics because TODAY the Savior is recognized.